I read in the news today (Friday) that the U.S. governing body for the sport of swimming handed your son a lifetime ban. It was a consequence of his criminal activity or, as your husband calls it, twenty minutes of action.
I’m not here to judge you as a parent. However, as one mother to another, I’d like to address what your husband considers a harsh punishment for twenty minutes of action while the rest of the world calls it what it is — rape.
Your son was accused, and found guilty in a court of law, of sexually assaulting an unconscious, non-responsive woman incapable of consenting to sexual relations (or anything else, for that matter). You see, contrary to what some may think, being unable to consent to something isn’t the same as affirmative consent. Unless the answer is a one hundred percent YES, it’s definitely a one hundred percent NO.
Now your son wants to start a program to alert college students of the dangers of excessive drinking and sexual promiscuity, and he believes that this is an appropriate punishment along with the six months in protective custody (which, with good behavior, could become three months). Your husband has assured the world that your son is “totally committed” to this offer to educate his peers on the unfortunate results that come about as a result of overindulging in alcohol.
I’m asking you to consider these three scenarios.
What if your son’s cellmate decided to beat your son to a pulp in what he considered to be twenty minutes of action? What if only three more months were added to that person’s time in prison for the assault? Would you be okay with the assault being referred to as twenty minutes of action worth three more months in jail?
What if your son wasn’t in jail but instead was an unconscious, non-responsive man incapable of consenting to an assault who was beaten up by another person while in that state? Would you accept the claim that it was twenty minutes of action and that the person who assaulted your son believed there was consent from your son to beat him up?
Now I’d like to ask you to consider a third scenario. What if your daughter was unconscious and non-responsive and therefore incapable of consenting to sexual relations? If she was sexually assaulted, would you and Dan refer to such a heinous act as twenty minutes of action?
I’m asking you to have a serious look at what happened on the night in question, and take a good hard look at how your son and husband are reframing the events of that night.
It’s sad to read in your letter to the judge that your “once vibrant and happy boy is distraught, deeply depressed, terribly wounded, and filled with despair” and that your “beautiful, happy family will never know happiness again.” Trust me when I tell you that the victim’s family feel similarly about their daughter, and their family will never know happiness again the way they knew happiness prior to the sexual assault on their daughter.
What’s sadder to read is that Dennis Riordan (the lawyer who represented Barry Bonds against perjury charges) is allegedly going to appeal your son’s conviction.
Carleen, I know you’re deeply affected by all this but perhaps it’s time to really consider the benefits of genuine healing, and that starts with owning up to, and accepting, the reality of this horrific situation along with the serious consequences.